Thirds time’s a charm

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Right? Because let me tell you –

I swung into the skirt with this amazingly yarnover-heavy stitch pattern… but I didn’t like how it was flowing (or not flowing) into stockinette stitch. So I ripped it back.

Next up was a more simple idea with a central increase and a cross over back, which made a clumsy twirl on my needles. When I tried it on Lou, it just looked horrendous. Shes pretty podgy, and it was all stretched out and weird. So she helped me rip that back.

Any now I’m onto something WAY more simple, hopefully with a little something at the end.

Needless to say, I did not finish within the deadline for the Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL… although there is talk about an extension?.. And hopefully third time IS a charm.

 

(this was a hasty cast on, but of course I’m learning the same old lesson once more – swatch, girl! Swatch heavily.

Tops Tanks and Tee KAL

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So as much as I wanted to get that lacy project off the needles, my plan for joining in for the last week of the Tops Tanks and Tee KAL over at Shannon’s place won me over and I’ve been working on a little something for Louella.
I want something for the summer that I can easily put on her in the evenings, or when a chill gets up, nothing to heavy or cumbersome, and something that is easy to get on her wriggly body. I’m also trying to pair it with some fabric I want to make her a birthday dress from, so I’m thinking something a little more special. I’m working with Swans Island Natural Colours Merino Silk Sport weight, and it is so nice to work with I might have to get some more for me! Although, there isn’t much of it used up on ravelry, and I can’t find it on their site – I have no idea if they’re still dying it?
I had a good idea how I wanted the body to look – cap sleeves with a roll hem, simple gathering at the shoulders and center front, opening at the back. It came out pretty much how I envisioned. I’ve given it a quick blocking before I head on to the skirt part (apparently an old yoga mat works well when your blocking mats are in the attic –  the attic which is only accessibly through a sleeping baby’s room). I’m still undecided how I want to work the skirt… half of me wants a fully laced skirt, half of me wants something a little less flouncy. I’m unsure. I have a lot more yarn left than I thought I would so I feel like anything is possible. Whilst it’s drying I’ll dive into my random assortment of stitch dictionary (got to love thrift stores) and no doubt they will help me out – its definitely my favourite part of designing, trawling thorough stitch patterns. I’ve been taking notes for other sizes too, so hopefully we will have a pattern at the end of all this.
Only a few more days left of the KAL, and a weekend away camping – hopefully I’ll make it in time! Are you joining in?

Regroup

KBP-16DSC_0364DSC_0361 DSC_0362DSC_0365 DSC_0367I’ve having one of those slow-down-and-regroup mornings. My Mum left yesterday, having been with us for a few weeks, and between her inspiring me to start all these wild and wonderful sewing projects, cast on many-a new knitting projects and the plain excitement of having a guest for a while (and getting horribly sick in the midst of it) I’m at that place where I need to get my head around what I’m working on.

I’m working on a few new patterns at the moment, one cardigan in the tech editing stage that is almost ready for testers (and already has its own slew of amazing photographs), and a shawl-like spin on the poncho that is so close to being off the needles I should just get on with it. It’s my first ever project working with lace, and you might call me crazy designing a fully charted pattern that eats up about 1500yds of the skinny stuff, but I LOVE how its turning out – the knitted fabric is amazing – and I cant wait to get it to the blocking boards. You see, I really should just crank it out.
Before I got sick I had grand plans to work on an adult sized project for the Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL over at veryshannon.com with that lush purple. However, it’s up in 8 days and so I’m thinking I’ll work on a smaller little something for Louella using this naturally dyed sandy coloured merino/silk blend, also from Swans Island. I bought it along with some fabric for a 1st birthday outfit (1 year old already?!) at the beginning of July. I’ve only played with a little swatch so far but it’s so nice to work with, and reminds me of Brambleberry Yarn’s Loganberry base I used for Leaf Stole (notice a colour preference?!).
Another project on the go for Lou is the R&R Hoodie by Tanis Lavallee of Tanis Fiber Arts. I’m using some CA merino wool I naturally dyed using Madder Root. It was a pure fluke, trying to exhaust a dye bath, and I entered the fiber bone dry which often means the rate at which the dye bath is absorbed fluctuates across the skein. The result is this awesome varigated salmony pinky coral colour and I’m enjoying seeing it develop as I knit it up. Lou is pretty chunky and going by her chest size I’m knitting the 18month size, however its coming out pretty big and so I’m not rushed to get this off the needles. It’s always nice to have an easy going project on the needles, the aran weight and large needles are a bonus!
That gorgeous crochet blanket? My Mum finished it off whilst she was here (along with a gazillion other projects) and she sneakily left it behind as a gift! I love it so much.. and it will be spread out on the table for now, because its far to pretty not to be on display!
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Loganberry by Brambleberry Yarns

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I’m clipping the end of the week here, but going along with my new desire to share more with you about the yarn I chose for my latest pattern revisit, Leaf Stole, I’m squeezing this in before the busy weekend!
I first approached Cynthia, of Brambleberry Yarns, almost a year ago with the idea to collaborate on a pattern. I came to know of her via the blog Small Things, and always admired the colour and natural tone Ginny’s projects carried. Brambleberry Yarns are all naturally dyed, and she uses only the most exquisite natural fibers. The swatch I worked up using fingering weight, rather than the worsted Leaf Stole was originally written for, was initially 100% wool. It had a great stitch definition but lacked the drape I wanted for this summer stole. Cynthia suggested her Loganberry base which is half silk, half merino, which would add a lot more fluidity to the finished knit. The result is perfection. Leaf Stole has the ability to look just perfect anyway it falls.

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

©Brambleberry Yarns

Similarly to me and my natural dying approach Cynthia uses plants from around her house and home to dye her yarns. She loves to experiment and see what pigments can be uncovered, and her results have so much depth and beauty, her work is everything I love about plant dyes.
To connect you even more with the yarn I used, I asked Cynthia to answer a few questions to share more about her work.

Annie : Firstly, can you tell us a little about Brambleberry Yarns, what it does and why it exists?
BBY : Brambleberry Yarns came to be as a gradual progression over the years. I have always had a love affair with plants and gardening- herbs in particular. Growing herbs and studying all their amazing uses was (and still is) a fulltime passion of mine. I was attending school for horticulture while working at an herb farm over ten years ago (yikes!) when I took up knitting during a stressful period in my life. Very quickly I learned how I could dye my yarns for my knitting with herbs from my garden and I was completely hooked. It eventually got to the point where I had more yarns than I knew what to do with from all of my experiments! On a whim I decided to try selling a few yarns and was very pleasantly surprised by the reaction I received from others. Brambleberry Yarns just took off from there.

Where do you get the inspiration for new dye plants and colours?
Inspiration mostly comes from just looking outside or wandering through my garden. I cannot look at a plant now and not wonder what color I might achieve from it if I tried using it as a dye! I especially enjoy gathering noxious, nonnative weeds and putting them to use in my dye pots. Japanese knotweed for example, is just horrible when it comes to taking over where I live but I discovered from experimenting that I could obtain a really nice rosy color from its roots.

I love the drape this silk/merino blend we used for this leaf stole – what other bases do you carry?
A major staple in my yarns is my organic merino base that I carry in both worsted and fingering weight. I also carry a blend of silk and merino in lace weight.  I am always experimenting with new bases though so what is in the shop is always evolving.

Where can we find your yarns?
Occasionally I will sell my yarns in local open air markets but mostly my yarns can be found online through my shop www.brambleberryyarns.com

Finally, do you love to knit or crochet? Where is your favourite place or time of day to do it?
I would say I love to knit and crochet! There is always something on my needles or hooks or spinning wheel – mostly I have too many projects going at once! I love to knit in front of the fireplace during the winter months but for the most part I love to knit or spin where I have a nice view of the garden or tress. As far as to a time of day that I enjoy these pastimes? Pretty much whenever I can manage to squeeze in the time is my favorite time!

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Revisiting : Leaf Stole

KBP-66KBP-53header KBP-48Next up on my pattern do-overs is the Leaf Stole. What was once a worsted weight, warm and snuggly wrap, I have tweaked the pattern oh so slightly with a fingering weight yarn to become the most luxurious thing you’ll ever have around your body! Brambleberry Yarns Loganberry base was amazing to work with. Half silk, half washable merino, not only does the stitch definition blow my mind, but the drape is just a dream! I’ve found that anyway I sling it over my shoulders it falls perfectly. You can bunch it together and wrap it around scarf-like, or open to display the full width and show off the stitch pattern as a stole. The cool weight of the silk is just what you need in summer evenings spent outside, and with the amount of fabric you get once all said and done, you should be able to cosy up with someone else too! Here’s the details!

Yarn : 3 skeins Loganberry by Brambleberry Yarns; 50% silk/50% superwash merino; 435yds, 3.5oz; photographed in ‘Honey’.
Needles : US 6 [4mm] needles, or size needed to obtain gauge, 16” circular.
Gauge : 22 sts and 33 rows = 4 inches/10cm in stitch pattern, BLOCKED.
Notions : Tapestry needle.
Sizes : One size.
Measurements : 18.5” wide x 80” long

I am SO SO SO grateful to have been introduced to a new friend, Krista, these past few weeks. Not only because she’s a complete nutcase, but she is also the most amazing photographer! It was impossible for me to whittle the shots down to just a few… so here’s some more.

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Check back later on in the week for more information about the yarn used… and there might be some more photos…

Returned knits

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.. not in a bad way, promise! When we were able to catch up with my family at Christmas – my siblings coming together from all over the world – my sister-in-law brought with her one of the Clara Dresses I had made for my niece a few years back. We had chosen the pattern together, and I’m pretty sure I had worked from my stash using up some Frog Tree Pediboo in the most berry-yummy purple. It was a fun knit (not the quickest) and I just loved how it came out. This pattern is so pretty. I popped it in the mail, sending it miles and miles away, and when it arrived it was quickly discovered that there is one big problem. The neck opening is SMALL.

If you look on ravelry its a common problem, the opening just doesn’t offer much in the way of stretching over an often-larger-than-you-might-think baby head. At the time I had no baby on hand to try out the knit and hadn’t noticed the problem (and went on to fix said problem with another dress… and adjusted the yoke to have a much bigger opening).
But the problem is back in my hands. Lou has managed to wear this number a few times whilst I could squeeze it over her head but its amazing how quickly those noggin’s grow! The chest is nice and wide, and the skirt full, so we definitely have some time in it yet – if it weren’t for the neck!
Short of using my machine to sew along either side of the the opening, going deeper, cutting (!) a bigger slit, and crocheting an edge to cover up my mess stitching, I’m not really sure what else to do. Any thoughts?

Ps. told you purple is the ‘pink’ in this household!!

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March

DSC_0078 DSC_0086DSC_0009 DSC_0024 DSC_0034DSC_0026 DSC_0056 DSC_0065DSC_0001 So, February flew by! Between road trips and work on the farm kicking up a notch (babies, babies, babies), already a week or so into March and I feel like I’m only just catching up. Bright, clear days and the recent time change have brought along a sturdy feeling of spring here in Northern CA and I’m starting to think about planting our garden and if we want meat birds or more laying hens this season (maybe both?).

My knitting time has been a bit unpredictable the past few weeks, but it turns out I actually have a few finished projects to share, probably because they are pint size knits. The first is the Sophie Blouse which was a surprisingly quick knit. The result is a great little top, perfect for slipping over anything (pj’s!) to add an extra layer of warmth. In fact this top gets so much use that it has been worn, loved and washed already before I got around to getting any FO shots. The yarn is MCN Twist Fingering ‘Victorian’ by Northbound Knitting, and although there is quite a bit of piling, my love of the colourway overrides that, and between all the holding and cuddling, baby knits are going to be heavy handed anyway. The pattern is very straight forward, and I knit it as is. I’m excited for Nikki Van de Car‘s new book for toddlers, as I have knit a lot out of her first one. (this, this and this)

Next up for our little one was a project I should have been putting off for more important things, but the excitement of working on it won me over! The pattern is Fairy SnowCap by Rosemary (Romi) Hill, part of The Great Oddments Knitdown, and I don’t mind if this is the only pattern I make from the whole collection, it was worth every single penny… cent! I shrunk the pattern down to fit about an 18″ head. I don’t wear hats, the curls keeps me plenty warm, and I’d rather be able to see this hat than have to find a mirror to view the beautiful pattern – its perfect on her! I used a worsted weight yarn, Erin by Imperial Yarns in ‘Sweet Plum’, and worked on US 5 and US 3 size needles. After finishing the hat as written I felt like it needed a few more rows of the twisted rib to cover up her ears. The sewn bind off was a special treat, I love any fancy finishing. It was the first time for me using pom pom maker – genius things! – and although the result is a little over the top and could probably use a bit of trimming, I think I’m going to leave it as it is!!

As for more the important things, I’m working away on new patterns and still revisiting the older ones. Things have been a bit neglected so its a month to catch up!